Te’o waits for the phone call he thought would never come

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As former Queensland State of Origin star Ben Te’o waits for the phone call on Thursday which will reportedly confirm his shock selection in Warren Gatland’s 40-man British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand, he would be well advised to reflect on just how fast his star has risen since switching codes in the wake of winning the 2014 NRL Premiership with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

After a successful league career with the Wests Tigers, Brisbane Broncos and then Souths, seven Origin appearances and a Rugby League World Cup cameo for Samoa, the Auckland-born star opted to head to Irish province Leinster to try his hand at rugby a little under three years ago.

Now at English Premiership strugglers Worcester, the centre has made eight appearances in the white jersey of Eddie Jones’ England, albeit only chalking up a solitary start – in an untidy victory over Italy which was mired by the home side’s legal, yet controversial no-ruck tactics.

Having qualified for the national side via his English mother, Te’o earned a deserved reputation as an aptly named impact player, coming off the bench with marked success as Jones’s side retained their Six Nations title.

However, it is not a label that sits comfortably with the 30-year-old Lion-in-waiting: “It’s not something I like doing,” he told England’s Times newspaper.

“I’ve never liked not starting a game. When you’re in a training camp with England, it’s such an intense environment and you put a lot into the training. Then it comes to game day and you only get 20 minutes …”

“You don’t want to say, ‘I’m an impact player.’ I’d never want to say that” he added.

He may be typecast, but it is this reputation which will see the rookie picked ahead of eminent centres including compatriot Jonathan Joseph, Ireland’s Jared Payne and Garry Ringrose, Scotland’s Huw Jones and Wales’ Scott Williams.

“You play whatever role you’re given,” he said. “But you can start to be seen as a certain type. You play for 20 minutes and feel like you’ve got so much more to give.”

Previously, Te’o had spoken cooly on the subject of the Lions, suggesting that not even he believed his career would lead him to the storied shirt so late in his career – and so soon after his switch: “I know the significance of the Lions but I can’t say I grew up wanting to be a British Lion,” he told the Times.

The subject of a fierce tug-of-war between Ireland, England and , Te’o eventually opted to swap Leinster for Worcester and throw his hat into the ring for a shot under Jones – and the gamble has paid off handsomely.

“I’d had meetings with [ head coach] Michael Cheika, and going back there was a possibility,” he said. “Eddie said he could only pick players who play in the Premiership but, if I came over here and played good rugby, he’d have a look at me. I just chose what felt right.”

The popular centre says he was inspired to widen his horizons after watching his former Broncos teammate – and one-time flatmate Israel Folau – swap league for AFL, and then rugby.

“However successful people say Israel was in AFL, in his head he was successful,” Te’o said. “He gave it a go and the most important thing was that he learnt a lot about himself along the way. You’ve got to challenge yourself sometimes and I wanted to do that.”

When Te’o answers the call on Thursday, he will join the ranks of such luminaries as Jack ‘Iron Man’ Matthews, Mike Gibson, Jeremy Guscott, Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll.

Perhaps more importantly, he will achieve what many thought 2014 Premiership-winning teammate Sam Burgess might, and rubber-stamp a successful conversion to the code. Big shout out to this bloke, when I first thought about going to Rugby Union he was the first guy to tell me I could make it. Told me it wasn’t too late to learn, that I had the talent, just to back myself. And two and a bit years later we are playing a test match against each other.A post shared by Ben Te’o (@ben.teo) on Dec 6, 2016 at 10:25pm PST

NHRU: Wells heads list of internationals leading the way for Newcastle University

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STAR ATTRACTION: New Zealand fly-half Dan Wells is one of six overseas recruits at University. The 26-year-old Northland sevens star plans to make Newcastle his permanent home. Picture: James GardinerDAN Wells was in need of a change. New town. New rugby environment.

A Kiwi, he had just represented Northland at the national sevens championships –the platform from which the New Zealand squad for the IRB world sevens circuit is selected.

There was talk of a place in the Northland ITM Cup program but Wells had heard that line before.

He looked at an opportunity in Ireland before Newcastle University entered the equation.

Wells is one of sixinternationals recruited by the Students through the support of the McCloy Group.

The 26-year-old didn’t just pack a bag and jump on a plane.He and partner, Steph Haynes, sold their house in Whangarei, where he was a builder, and relocated stock, lock and barrelto Newcastle.

“It was a bit of a gamble,” Wells said. “We have fallen in love with Newcastle. It is easy to get around andthe beaches are beautiful. We plan to settle down here.”

Apart from Wells, hooker Luke Harwood (Wales), No.8 Jack Cooke (Ireland), centresFausto Carpini (Argentina) and Nelson Gomes (France) and halfback Gianluca Naldi (Italy) are foreigners.

Gomes scored a try and Wells (conversion) and Naldi(penalty) also scoredin the Students’ 20-16 win over Nelson Bay.

“You can see that everyone has skill, but we all have different styles and techniques,” Wells said.“It is taking time for us to gel. By about round three we should be close.”

Wells has played mainly at 12 or 15 in recent seasons but has been handed the job of running the team at fly-half.

“We have a few boys whose English is not that great and they want someone to control the game,” he said. The video clips they saw of me weremainly playing fullback. I enjoy kicking but counter attacking is my strength.Uni have a few boys who can play 15 and they really want me to settle in as a number 10.”

Wells was born in Gisborne and went to noted Auckland rugby academy,Manurewa High School, where he played in the first XV aged 15.He represented Northern Region Maori colts (under-20s) and was picked up by Northland.

Younger brothers Henare, 24, and Dallas, 22, are talented rugby league players. They grew up on the Gold Coast with their fatherand attended Keebra Park High School. Henare played under-20s at the Sydney Roosters and was at the Warriors last year. Dallas played under-20s at Cronulla.

“Theyhave done well in league, but I can still handle them,” he laughed.

Next for the Students are Lake Macquarie.

“I’m used toto playing physical teams back home,” he said.“Club rugby here is pretty strong. From what I’m told wehave a lot more experience this year whichgives the young boys confidence.”

ADVERTISING FEATURE: City fires up for visitor

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SAILING INTO TOWN: HMAS Newcastle and her crew will play a pivotal role in Anzac Day centenary celebrations this year.GUIDED missile frigate HMAS Newcastle will fire a seven-gun salute tomorrow afternoon as she sails for the last time into her namesake port.

Fort Scratchley will welcome the ship with a salute from its No.2 Mk.7 gun before the HMAS Newcastle replies with a salvo from its ceremonial deck gun.

The arrival marks the start of a busy few days of activities for the ship’s captain and crew.

From 10am Monday, the vessel’s full complement of 184 servicemen and women will take part in a Freedom of Entry march through the city.

The march will start at Perkins Street before proceeding along Hunter Street, turning onto Darby Street and then onto King Street before ending at Civic Park.

HMAS Newcastle commanding officer Commander Mark Sirois said the march was “a fitting honour” for the crew and city prior to the ship’s decommissioning.

“Newcastle is our home port and our namesake city, and the Freedom of Entry is an old tradition that creates an even greater bond,” he said.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who will inspect the crew and preside over the march, said HMAS Newcastle and her crew had maintained close ties with Newcastle since her launch in 1992.

“HMAS Newcastle personnel have regularly taken part in Anzac Day marches and other military ceremonies in the city and they have welcomed thousands of Novocastrians for open days during the ship’s many visits. But equally important is their ongoing charity work with local organisations in need.”

The ship’s crew will be among an estimated 800 current and former servicemen and women and their families taking part in the city’s main Anzac Day march through Newcastle to Civic Park.

Also during the visit, a troop of 100 Scouts from the Hunter and Manning regions will be given an exclusive tour of the vessel.

HMAS Newcastle has been deployed on various military and peace-keeping roles throughout the Pacific and Persian Gulf areas and will continue on operational taskings and exercises throughout 2018 prior to her decommissioning in 2019.

Try this fresh autumn dish at home, courtesy of Margan chef Thomas Boyd

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HANDY HINT: Beetroots that are firm and have their green leaves attached will be fresher and more flavoursome. Picture: Dominique CherryTHE DISHRoast beetroot salad with whipped goats curd, bitter leaves and hazelnut dressing

THE INSPIRATIONThey are a classic combination, beetroot and goat cheese, and one of my go-to favourites when entertaining guests at home. This recipe is quick and simple but delivers on flavour and texture. It can be a side dish or served as a great entree, perfect for an autumn dinner party.

THE CHEF: Thomas Boyd, of Margan Restaurant, 1238 Milbrodale Road, Broke.

CHEF’S TIPSFor extra detail when plating as an entree, try making a beetroot puree. Simply roast an extra 500g of beets in the oven and then cook in 200mlsimmering water, 400mlred wine and with a sprig of rosemary. Separate the beets from the cooking liquor once tender, then blitz and add some of the cooking liquid back into the puree to get the desired consistency.

INGREDIENTSWhipped goats curd: 450g of goats cheese (chevre) at room temperature; 10ml of thickened cream; zest of ½ an orange;2 tps of finely chopped rosemary

Hazelnut dressing: 100ml red wine vinegar; 300ml hazelnut oil; 1x finely diced shallot; 200g roasted hazelnuts (slightly crushed). I like to use a saucepan to crush them.

Bitter leaves: 1 head of radicchio; 200g rocket; 1.5kg or 8 (medium) baby red beetroots for roasting

METHODRoast beetroots

1. Preheat oven to 185 degrees celsius fan forced. Trim the stalks and root off flush to the beetroot then wash and place in a mixing bowl. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt then mix well to coat the beets.

2. Wrap each beetroot individually with foil, pressing firmly to create an airtight seal. Place beetroots into preheated oven on a trivet to prevent hot spots.

3. After 45 minutes check if the beets are cooked by piercing them with a skewer, it should effortlessly slide in and out. Leave to cool and rest in the foil.

4. Once cooled unwrap the foil and gently massage the beets with your hands to remove the skin (if you’re worried about staining your hands, wear disposable gloves). Cut the cooked and peeled beetroots into ¼ pieces and set aside.

Whipped goats curd

In a kitchen aid or food processor place the room temp goats cheese, cream, orange zest and rosemary and whip on a medium too high speed for 2 mins until well incorporated and smooth. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag or a container ready to be spooned out when serving.

Hazelnut dressing

Place the hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast while the beets are cooking, about5 to 8 minutes until lightly golden. Combine the vinegar, oil and diced shallot in an empty glass jar and shake well, alternatively whisk in a bowl. Before serving, add the roasted nuts to the vinaigrette and shake well.

Bitter leaves

Discard the outer dark leaves of the radicchio, separate the inner leaves into single pieces. Wash and rinse in cold water and pat dry, tear any large leaves into more practical sized pieces.

TO SERVEIn a large mixing bowl, place the beetroots, cover with half of the nutty dressing, mix well and lay the dressed beets onyour serving bowl. Pipe or dollop the whipped curd over the dressed beets in the serving bowl. Add the leaves and a little more dressing, scatter over the beets and goats curd.

Advertising feature: Maternity

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First cuddle: Allison with some skin on skin contact shortly after the girls were born.

When primary school teacher Allison Lewis fell pregnant last year, she and herhusband Chad couldn’t have been happier.

But at just 6 weeks into the pregnancy Allison began to experience pain and was referred by her GP for a scan. It was at this early point thatObstetrician, Susan Winspear of Newcastle Private Hospital, informed Allison that she was having twins.

Despite some gruelling morning sickness, the next few monthsof the pregnancy were fairly smooth, Allison attended monthly scans at the hospital with pleasing progress. At 24 weeks things took a different turn.

“I remember sitting in the waiting room with Chadand talking about how well things were going. Literally moments later my obstetrician told us that my cervix was shortening and that I was to leave work that day for total rest,” said Allison.

Double delight: Allison at home with Quinn and Piper.

With the risk of pre-term labour high, Allisonspent the next two weeks in bed while her family rallied round to support.

Round the clock care: Allison spent everyday beside the girls for their first 6 weeks at the hospital nursery.

At 26 weeks Allison had a worrying bleed and was again admitted for scans. Just 3 days before Christmas she was told she neededto stay in the maternity unit at Newcastle Private Hospital (NPH)soshe could be carefully monitored until the babies were born.

“Every week was a milestone, the midwives updateda whiteboardto track every week I passed.The NPH staff were amazing and kept us really well informed, answered our concerns no matter what or when we we raised them, I felt like we were in really good hands, I kept praying I would reach 28 weeks, then 30,”

Allison managed to reach 32 weeks and 4 days before labour began.

“That night I knew something wasn’t right. Myobstetrician took more scans and saw i was starting to dilate, the babies were on their way,”

Allison and Chadsdaughterswere deliveredby Cesarian section, weighing just 1380 grams and 1490 grams.

Having endured weeks of scans and waiting, the next 6 weeks could have been even harder for Allison and Chad with daughters Quinn and Piper to stay in the NPH special carenursery but the staff at the hospital made what could have been an extremely difficult time much easier.

“Going home without the girls was definitely the hardest part but the NPH maternity staff were amazing. It had never occurred to me before how hard these people work, the maternity unit becamelike an extended family.”

“I was allowed to have time holding the girls everyday and shown how to bath them and begin feeds when they were able.”

8 weeks on and the girls have grown to weigh in at 3 and 3.5 kilos, they are home and doing well.

“I’m loving every moment of being a mum and cannot thank the hospital enough.”

Fresh row erupts over shark policy after fatal attack near Esperance

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Fresh row erupts over shark policy after fatal attack Laeticia Brouwer’s mangled surfboard.

Fisheries minister Dave Kelly with a shark barrier. Photo: Facebook.

Fisheries minister Dave Kelly meets Shark Shield inventor Lyndsay Lyon who holds a surf board fitted with the device. Photo: Facebook.

Laeticia Brouwer’s mangled surfboard.

Laeticia Brouwer’s mangled surfboard.

Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

TweetFacebook Photo Gallery’She died doing what she loved’: shark victim identified as Laeticia BrouwerThe state government has come under pressure to reveal its plan to prevent sharkattacks after fisheries minister Dave Kelly concededdrum lines would no longer be dropped to catch dangerous sharks following fatalities.

The fresh political row erupted after 17-year-old Mandurahgirl Laeticia Brouwer was killed in an attack near Esperance on Monday.

On TuesdayMr Kelly, a prominent campaigner against the killing of sharks when in opposition,revealed fisheries officers would not be hunting the shark that killed Ms Brouwer.

“We made it clear in opposition that we don’t see the merit in automatically deploying drum lines because they don’t actually make our beaches any safer,” Mr Kelly said.

“We want to focus on promoting individual shark deterrents which can actually provide genuine protection for the people most at risk.”

He said the government had scrapped the guidelines that determined whether dangerous sharks were hunted and was conductinga review of the serious shark threat policy.

“That’s still in the process of being completed, but we hope to have that full review and a new policy announced in the coming weeks,” Mr Kelly said.

“The fact that drum lines weren’t deployed this morning I think you can safely say is a result of the change in policy from the election.”

Authorities monitoring drum lines off Falcon Beach near Mandurah after the fatal attack on Ben Gerring in 2016. Photo: Nathan Hondros.

Opposition leader Mike Nahan said the new government had to come to terms with the threat to the community posed by sharks and had to act.

“We had, and in opposition we retain, a policy of putting drum lines out to inhibit a shark that has attacked someone from doing so again,” he said.

“Again, the principle is to put a priority onhuman life over sharks, and to avoid the risk of a shark that has attacked a person from doing so again at the same beach or at an adjacent area.”

Mr Nahan also criticised the government’s policy of funding 1000 shark shields for use by Western ns, saying questions remained over their effectiveness.

Federal Canning MP Andrew Hastie, who campaigned for more action to prevent shark attacks after Ben Gerring was killed near Mandurah in 2016, said the government’s response was “completely flatfooted” and called on Premier Mark McGowan to show leadership on the issue.

Canning MP Andrew Hastie and Dawesville MP Zak Kikrup campaign for more shark barriers in 2016. Photo: Nathan Hondros.

Mr Hastie said the state government should be considering taking dangerous sharks after an attack and act to reduce numbers.

“The policy makers should be pragmatic, responsive and open-minded and to shut down one policy before even having a discussion is just stupid,” he said.

“At the moment, our legislation is preferencing sharks over and above human life and safety and so something has to change and I think we should revisit all options to make sure that Western ns can swim the ocean safely.”

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup, who represents the Falcon community and campaigned for shark barriers at the recent state election, said he thought it remarkable the Labor party had introduced a policy where no attempt was made to catch dangerous sharks after an attack.

“For me, a change of policy so that seriously threatening sharks are not removed automatically, and a roll-out of 1000 shark shields, is not a good enough response to this issue,” he said.

“The government’s responsibility first and foremost is to protect human life; everything needs to be done to make sure that is the imperative.”

Mr Kirkup said he was disappointed the Premier had not spoken about his government’s policy on sharks.

“I would think it’s a very unusual circumstance where the Premier on behalf of his government doesn’t come out and address this issue and talk about what’s been done,” he said.

“It’s very unusual. I would expect him to be front and centre in helping to deal with this problem.”

A great white shark was caught and killed off Falcon after Ben Gerring was attacked last year.

Fisheries officers set three drum lines about200 metres off the coast.

NHRU: Lamont leads well-balanced Newcastle squad

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LEADING THE WAY: Steve Lamont will captain Newcastle at the Country Championships. Picture: Jonathan CarrollIT was one of the first things coach Stu Pinkerton spoke about when he assembled the Newcastle squad.

Round 2: Hamilton v Maitland, Wanderers v Singleton, Nelson Bay v Southern Beaches, University v Lake Macquarie, The Waratahs v Merewether

Newcastle has lost the past three Country championship finals. They went down to Central West in 2014, before consecutive losses to Illawarra.

“It is certainly a statistic we are determined to correct,” Pinkerton said. “We have spoken about it right through the lead up. We want our name back on the trophy.”

Pinkerton has finalised the 25-man squad for the championship which is being held in Port Macquarie on April 29-30. Newcastle must beat Central West on the Saturday to progress to the final.

Newcastle: 1 Ben Christensen, 2 Steve Lamont (c), 3 Favaae Sila, 4 Nathan Brennan, 5 Seva Rokobaro, 6 Steve Sione, 7 Josh Stewart, 8 Joe Akkersdyk, 9 Jono O’Toole, 10 Dane Sharratt, 11 Sireli Bainivalu, 12 Jay Strachan (vc), 13 Sam Foggarty, 14 Tim Marsh, 15 Adrian Delore, 16 BarcelonaLupematasila, 17 Sapati Peniata, 18 Leeland Marshall, 19 Glenn Stone, 20 Ben Ham, 21 Michael Delore, 22 SonniHalanukonuka, 23 Paddy Killmurray, 24 Tom Emayel, 25 Rapine Mason.

* Newcastle players will get a taste on Saturday of what to expect at the Country Championship in terms of officiating. The referees for Port Macquarie will control first and second grade games.

* Premier Rugby clubs have four weeks to review the player points lists for 2017 and lodge any queries. The PPS has been adjusted with non locals allocated 3 points (1st year), 2 points (2nd year) and 1 point(third year). Nelson Bay, Singleton and University have a cap of 27 points, Lake Macquarie 23 and the rest 18.

Hunter and Central Coast cancer patients, carers and families asked to tell their stories on palliative carepoll

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NSW is ‘failing terminally ill’: specialist Phone: Former Newcastle MP Bryce Gaudry and wife Barbara are urging cancer patients, carers and families to take part in a Cancer Council phone campaign about palliative care services. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Campaigner: Retired palliative care specialist Dr Yvonne McMaster argues a better NSW palliative care service supports the terminally ill, and makes better use of health care resources.

Diagnosis: Former Newcastle MP Bryce Gaudry before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2016. The treatment left him in almost overwhelming pain. Wife Barbara Gaudry said palliative care should be available to terminally ill patients to help them cope.

Changes: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard are believed to be considering expanding the state’s palliative care services.

Concerns: Cessnock MP Clayton Barr has spoken strongly about the need for improved palliative care services after working for Canteen, the cancer support organisation for teenagers and young adults.

Told: Former NSW Treasurer Mike Baird was told in February, 2013 that spending more on palliative care services would save the state $140 million a year.

TweetFacebookNSW Cancer Council Hunter Central Coast manager Shane Connell and Hunter Cancer Action Network spokeswoman Barbara Gaudry havecalled on cancer patients, carers and families in the two regions who have been affected by advanced or terminal cancer in the past five years to tell their stories. They are invited to phone 13 11 20 until April 30 to help the Cancer Council assess the availability and experience of palliative care.

“The information collected by Cancer Council will help paint a picture of the significant difference that palliative care staff make to people’s lives, as well as the impact that gaps in access to palliative care have on the community,” Mr Connell said.

The campaign comes after data released in January showed few John Hunter Hospital and Calvary Mater patients were being referred to palliative care.

One in 10 patients had no mention in their notes that they were dying at the time of death, only one in 10 was having a pain score done, and out of 100 people none was coded as palliative at the time of death, Hunter intensive care specialist Dr Peter Saul said.

Mrs Gaudry said the campaign also hoped to educate the community about howpalliative care was not just about the final days of a person’s life, but was about supporting a person with a terminal diagnosis through difficult stages including treatment.

It was a shock for both her and husband Bryce Gaudry, the former Newcastle MP, when treatment for his pancreatic cancer caused almost overwhelming pain, vomiting and nausea.

He had major surgery in April, 2016 followed by seven months of chemotherapy. Although hecounted himself as “one of the lucky ones, if you can call it lucky”, because 30 per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer died within two months, his doctor had given him a three per cent chance of surviving the cancer.

“It was only after we got through it that I realised palliative care should have been organised for Bryce. That’s the time you need palliative care, when the reality is he has only a slim chance of survival and the treatment is almost overwhelming. But there was nothing,” Mrs Gaudry said.

“He arrived at the front door after treatment and he was writhing in pain, and had uncontrollable vomiting. He was just senthome with some tablets that didn’t work. I didn’t understand at the time that we should have had palliative care organised to give Bryce and I support and help to get through it.”

Mrs Gaudry said they were both willing to speak strongly on the need for expanded palliative care services because of serious concerns about many others in the community who would be experiencing what they went through.

New visa jobs list would affect just 9 per cent of 457 holders: Shorten

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Malcolm Turnbull’s visa changes aren’t as tough as they seem. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBe the first to know. Sign up for our breaking news alert

It was billed as an “ns first” game-changer that would give local workers priority over foreigners for local jobs.

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claims the Turnbull government’s decision to slash the list of occupations eligible for the two-year visa is “already unravelling”.

Labor has released an analysis that shows just 8.6 per cent of foreign workers currently on a 457 visa are working in jobs that would be excluded under the new visa system.

Less than 1 per cent of ‘s 12 million-strong workforce, or 95,758 people, held a primary 457 visa last year.

The 651 professions eligible for a 457 visa would be slashed to 435 eligible for a new two-year temporary skills shortage visa, under the changes announced on Tuesday. The list for a new four-year visa would be even shorter.

Further, of the 216 jobs being slashed from the eligible occupations list, 18 of those being cut haven’t been used once in the past decade. Those jobs include turf growers, deer farmers, homeopaths and detectives.

Another 46 occupations on the list haven’t been granted a visa once in the past year, including antique dealers, futures traders, park rangers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, saw makers and repairers, sail makers, shoe makers, funeral directors and golfers.

But cooks, cafe and restaurant managers, chefs, marketing specialists and programmers – professions for which 457 visas are most commonly used to bring in foreign workers – remain on the list, though they will be subject to the new rules requiring police background checks, two years of work experience and labour market testing.

Mr Shorten said the analysis of the publicly available data, which was current to December 31, 2016, showed the changes to the list of eligible occupations “isn’t a crackdown, it’s a con job”.

“He’s [Mr Turnbull] tinkering at the edges for a headline so he can keep his job for another month. He’s scrapped one visa and created two new ones – not even one in 10 visa holders would be affected,” he said.

“Under Malcolm Turnbull, we’ll still be bringing in cooks, builders, bakers and hairdressers from overseas to do jobs that ns should be doing. He is so out of touch – he is cracking down on dodgy visas for antique dealers, but not for nurses. He says he now supports labour market testing – but he’s been opposing it in the Parliament.”

In 2015, Mr Turnbull accused Labor and the union movement of “economic chauvinism” for championing and then introducing changes to the 457 visa scheme when in government.

And in 2013, before the Abbott government scrapped the limit on the number of foreign workers an employer could bring in on a 457, Mr Turnbull said former prime minister Julia Gillard’s “attack on 457s strikes at the heart of the skilled migration system”.

Mr Shorten’s move to ramp up his attack on the Turnbull government’s visa changes came as the Prime Minister on Wednesday morning indicated broader changes were in the works to ‘s citizenship laws, which would “enable our migration program to contribute still further to our social cohesion while enhancing our security”.

” must continue to attract people who will embrace our values and positively contribute, regardless of nationality or religious belief. This is important for temporary visas; vital for permanent residency and citizenship,” he said.

These changes would ensure that people who obtained n citizenship were “consistent with our cultural values”.

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed senior bureaucrats held serious concerns that changes to ‘s visa system could create a “two-tier society”, undermine social cohesion and stoke violent extremism.

The reforms would involve the mandatory granting of a new provisional visa before a person would be granted permanent residency.

Discussing the changes to the foreign worker visa program, Mr Turnbull said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was the nation’s “chief recruiter” and the new system would allow to get the best and brightest recruits from overseas.

“Under Labor, net migration peaked at an unsustainable 315,000 migrants a year. It’s now less than 200,000. We are back in control of our borders.”

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About one in 10 taxpaying Victorians negatively gears, new data claims

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Generic real estate and auction pictures?? Photo: Dan SoderstromMore principals and police use negative gearing than doctorsFinancial distress looms due to spike in negatively gearingScott Morrison rules out changes to negative gearing

It is the political hot potato that will not drop from the headlines, and now negative gearing has been thrust into the spotlight again, with new data showing the extent to which the tax break is being used in Victoria.

Figures from the n Taxation Office crunched by the Property Council – advocates of negative gearing – show almost half a million Victorians own a residential investment property. Of those 500,000 investors, about 311,000 negatively gear. This is out of about 3.3 million taxpayers in the state, suggesting about one in 10 taxpaying Victorians use negative gearing.

About 207,000 negative gearers earned less than $80,000 after deductions, according to the Property Council, and about 24,000 were under 30 years old. It’s widely understood that those on higher incomes can make deductions to ensure their taxable income appears to be less than $80,000.

The figures follow a report by KPMG Economics released on Tuesday, analysing data over 20 years, which showed even ‘s poorest are jumping on the negative gearing bandwagon, despite their inability to manage the risks.

“It seems that once you’re hooked on the drug of investing in property, you want more and more,” KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne told Fairfax Media. “Any increase in our historically low interest rates would cause serious problems given the growth of outstanding residential loans over the past decade.”

But Sally Capp, executive director of the Property Council in Victoria, said the risk-weighted average return over the past 20 to 30 years has made property the best performing asset class.

“So if you’re going to have an asset and one day you find that you can’t continue to hold it, at least in the current market you’ve got confidence you will be able to sell, pay your debts and try something else,” Ms Capp said.

“The fact that so many people in lower incomes brackets are doing things to try and create wealth, I think that’s a great sign. Whether that type of wealth creation is right for them at this time, that’s debatable, and maybe that’s what needs to be looked at further.

“We would never want to get to a point where we are regulating the decisions people make, they will make mistakes.”

Ms Capp said the data showed the average deduction for negative gearing by a Victorian resident was $8621, proving the tax mechanism was not simply “a tool of the ultra-rich”.

“We’re not seeing negative gearing used for wildly expensive properties with lots of ongoing costs,” she said. “The amount of deductions seems very reasonable and affordable … It shows this isn’t about gauging, we’re not seeing gauging of negative gearing, we’re seeing what would appear to be entirely reasonable use.”

Analysis by Fairfax Media, following the release of the ATO figures last week, showed the top occupations with the highest proportion of negatively geared properties were policy and planning managers, anaesthetists, surgeons, senior non-commissioned defence force members and school principals.

The Property Council has refuted claims negative gearing drives property prices up, advocating instead for more measured supply of housing to the market.

“We believe that as community for us to ensure affordability and a reasonable growth – whatever reasonable is, and that depends from time to time – the largest impact on managing that is the supply side, it’s not about trying to control the demand side,” Ms Capp said.

“We don’t think negative gearing is a major cause and you can see that from this data. We’re talking about almost 10 per cent of the taxpayers in in Victoria – that’s a nice chunk, but its not so compelling that you’d think that’s having a major impact on our property prices.”

The issue continues to prove to be a political football for the federal government and opposition, with Treasurer Scott Morrison kiboshing any changes to the tax concession in May’s federal budget.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Bill Shorten has said Labor’s plan to scrap negative gearing and capital gains tax could raise $37 billion to help balance the budget, with assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar calling the plan “a cash cow designed to raise money for [Shorten’s] other ‘policies’.

An earlier version of this story suggested that many negative gearers earned less than $80,000 before tax. This has been corrected.